• Class Number 4579
  • Term Code 3350
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Muhammad A. Kavesh
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 03/07/2023
  • Class End Date 05/09/2023
  • Census Date 21/07/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 11/07/2023
SELT Survey Results

The course will introduce students to multiple drivers of social conflict against the backdrop of environmental change over the past century in Asia and the Pacific. Such challenges and conflicts emerge out of historical, social, economic, political, religious and cultural movements and debates, often linked to wider global forces. Topics include: the impact of colonialism, the politics of gender, nationalism and the environment, the postcolonial state and its role in conflict and environmental degradation. We also explore how indigenous knowledge and cultural traditions have been enrolled in the service of an ecological ethic and the kind of ideologies and activities have inspired environmental activism. 

More generally, the course considers the critical question of how Asian and Pacific societies have redefined their relationship to the environment from the colonial period until the present day. We investigate the relationships between environmental degradation, urbanisation, migration, technological change and public health to reveal the key roles that state and non-state actors play in influencing social conflict and mediation.   

The course will be of particular interest to students intending to pursue a career in the Asian and Pacific region. It will also be of interest to those seeking to expand their expertise in a range of practical topics related to governments, non-government organisations, development agencies, education sectors, media, public health directives, gender relations, global trade practices, and climate policy initiatives.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of social conflict and environmental change across Asia and the Pacific.
  2. Build an intercultural knowledge and skill set necessary to engage successfully and critically in applied projects across a variety of urban, regional and rural settings.
  3. Understand and apply a range of perspectives to engage with critical issues facing Asia and the Pacific.
  4. Conduct independent research related to social conflict and environmental challenges, drawing on anthropological, historical and interdisciplinary sources.
  5. Communicate findings effectively to specialist and/or professional audiences.

Required Resources

Haraway, Donna J. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016.

Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2015.

Mathur, Nayanika. Crooked Cats: Beastly Encounters in the Anthropocene. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2021.

Yusoff, Kathryn. A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018.

Chao, Sophie. In the Shadow of the Palms: More-Than-Human Becomings in West Papua. Durham: Duke University Press Books, 2022.

Chakrabarty, Professor Dipesh. The Climate of History in a Planetary Age. Chicago?; London: University of Chicago Press, 2021.

Kirksey, Eben 2015. Emergent Ecologies Durham: Duke University Press.

Baird, Ian G., Keith Barney, Peter Vandergeest and Bruce Shoemaker (2009). “Reading Too Much into Aspirations: More Explorations of the Space Between Coerced and Voluntary Resettlement in Laos.” Critical Asian Studies. 40(4): 605-614.

Beban, A. and Work, C. 2014. “The Spirits are Crying: Dispossessing Land and Possessing Bodies in Rural Cambodia” Antipode 46 (3): 593-610.

Blake, D. J. H. and K. Barney (2018). “Structural Injustice, Slow Violence? The Political Ecology of a ‘Best Practice’ Dam in Lao PDR.” Journal of Contemporary Asia. 48(5): 808-834.

Blake, D. J. H. and K. Barney. 2018. “Structural Injustice, Slow Violence? The Political Ecology of a ‘Best Practice’ Dam in Lao PDR.” Journal of Contemporary Asia, 48(5): 808-834.

Brenner, D. 2017. “Authority in Rebel Groups: Identity, Recognition and the Struggle over Legitimacy” Contemporary Politics 23 (4): 408-26.

Chao, S. 2018. “In the Shadow of the Palm: Dispersed Ontologies among Marind, West Papua” Cultural Anthropology 33 (4).: 621-49.

Cheesman, Nick (2017). “Introduction: Interpreting Communal Violence in Myanmar.” Journal of Contemporary Asia. 47(3): 335-353.

Dressler, W. 2021. “Defending lands and forests: NGO histories, everyday struggles, and extraordinary violence in the Philippines,” Critical Asian Studies, 53:3, 380-411.

Franco, J. C., and S. M. Borras Jr. 2019. “Grey Areas in Green Grabbing: Subtle and Indirect Interconnections Between Climate Change Politics and Land Grabs and Their Implications for Research.” Land Use Policy 84: 192–199.

Frewer, T. 2021. “Reconfiguring vulnerability: Climate change adaptation in the Cambodian highlands,” Critical Asian Studies, 53:4, 476-498.

Hirsch, Philip (2016). “The Shifting Regional Geopolitics of Mekong Dams” Political Geography, 51: 63-74.

Jacka, J. 2001. “Coca Cola and Kolo: Land Ancestors and Development” Anthropology Today, 17(4) 3- 8.

Jacka, J. 2018. “The Anthropology of Mining: The Social and Environmental Impacts of Resource Extraction,”Annual Review of Anthropology, 47: 61-77.

Jones, Lee and Jinghan Zeng (2019). “Understanding China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’: Beyond ‘Grand Strategy’ to a State Transformation Analysis.” Third World Quarterly, 40(8): 1415-39.

Klinger, Julie Michelle & Joshua S. S. Muldavin (2019). “New Geographies of Development: Grounding China’s Global Integration.” Territory, Politics, Governance. 7:1, 1-21.

Lahiri-Dutt, K. 2018. ‘Extractive Peasants: Reframing Informal Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Debates,’ Third World Quarterly, 39 (8): 1561-1582.

Peluso, Nancy Lee (2008). “A Political Ecology of Violence and Territory in West Kalimantan.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 49(1): 48-67.

Rogers, S. and B. Wilmsen. (2019). “Towards a Critical Geography of Resettlement.” Progress in Human Geography.

South, Ashley and Joll, Christopher M. 2016. “From Rebels to Rulers: The Challenges of Transition for Non-state Armed Groups in Mindanao and Myanmar.” Critical Asian Studies 48 (2): 168-92.

Suhardiman, D., M. Giordano, and F. Molle. (2012). “Scalar Disconnect: The Logic of Transboundary Water Governance in the Mekong” Society and Natural Resources. 25(6): 572–86.


van Klinken. Gerry (2008). “Blood, Timber and the State in West Kalimantan, Indonesia.” Asia Pacific Viewpoint 49(1): 35-47.  


Woods, K. & Naimark, J. 2020. ‘Conservation as Counterinsurgency: A Case of Ceasefire in a Rebel Forest in Southeast Myanmar’ Political Geography, 83(102251): 1-11. 


Woods, K. 2011. Ceasefire Capitalism: Military-Private Partnerships, Resource Concessions and Military-State Building in the Burma-China Borderlands. Journal of Peasant Studies, 38(4), 747-770.

Work, C. 2019. Chthonic Sovereigns? ‘Neak Ta’ in a Cambodian Village” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 20 (1): 74-95.

Yusoff, K. 2016. ‘Anthropogenisis: Origins and Endings in the Anthroposcene’ Theory, Culture and Society, 33 (2): 3-28.


Reports (International):

Greenpeace Report (2021) Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021 (Online )

Changing Markets (2015) Bad Medicine (online )

UN (2019) Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems (online )

WHO (May 2020) Manifesto for a Healthy Recovery from COVID-19 (online )

International Labour Organisation (2021) Empowering Women at Work – Government Laws and Policies for Gender Equality  (online )

Please note that all peer-reviewed readings are available to download online through the ANU library. If you have any difficulty accessing texts please email muhammad.kavesh@anu.edu.au

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 07 July (6-8PM): Live Zoom seminar: Introduction to the Course We will discuss the overall scope and objectives of the course, as well as expectations and assessments (such as seminar presentations). We will discuss keywords and definitions related to the course material. 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 July: These pre-recorded lectures will cover the chief issues driving environmental issues, social conflicts, policy, and practice in Asia and the Pacific. Some of the lectures will also be presented by guest speakers who are experts in these fields. 14, 21, and 28 July: Two hour-long live Zoom sessions will be divided into two parts; each part will discuss the pre-recorded lectures of that week with prompt questions for discussion. The first lecture will discuss pre-recorded lectures of 11 and 14 July, the second lecture will discuss pre-recorded lectures of 18 and 21 July, and the last (third) lecture will discuss the pre-recorded lecture of 25 July and strategies for approaching the final assessment. First Lecture will be a live Zoom Session. In the lead-up to the intensive component, students will have approximately ten hours of pre-recorded lectures. These will be timetabled and made available in Zoom/Echo 360 format, appearing twice a week. We will also have five hours of live discussion lectures that will draw upon these pre-recorded lectures. Engaging with the pre-recorded lectures through embedded online activities and live sessions will contribute to your overall participation in the course. Reflective Essay: 30% Due on 1 Aug
2 5 Aug- 6 Aug (9AM-5PM): Intensive lectures, tutorials, and class presentations. During these days we will cover topics such as conflict, land governance, water security, migration and labour, gender, and climate change, among others. The intensive component will include discussions in groups and class presentations by students, to help with their main essay. Class presentation and contribution 20% 05 Sep: Final Essay Due (50%)

Tutorial Registration

Not applicable.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Reflective Essay 30 % 01/08/2023 16/08/2023 1, 2
Class presentation & Oral contribution 20 % 05/09/2023 27/09/2023 1, 3
Final Essay 50 % 05/09/2023 27/09/2023 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 01/08/2023
Return of Assessment: 16/08/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2

Reflective Essay

 2000 words (not including footnotes and references)

Critical analysis of scholarship, writing and resources on and about issues to do with development approaches and ideologies, and/or social conflicts due to and exacerbated by environmental change.

Topics will be discussed with Lecturer.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 05/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 27/09/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1, 3

Class presentation & Oral contribution

Demonstrate communication skills involved in scholarly inquiry and critical review of issues pertinent to the course content and specialist topics addressed in lectures.

Oral contributions in seminars and interactive classes, combined with online activities

Assessment Task 3

Value: 50 %
Due Date: 05/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 27/09/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Final Essay

4000 words (not including footnotes and references)

Demonstrate an informed and critical appreciation of selected course themes and debates around conflict and environmental change at a postgraduate level of scholarship.

(Topics for the essay will need to be discussed with the Lecturer in advance)

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Muhammad A. Kavesh
02 6125 2518

Research Interests

Ethics; Philosophy; Multispecies Ethnography; Sufism; Decolonization; Gender and Masculinities; Sports; Trade and Development; Belt and Road Initiative; Geopolitics; Geoeconomics; Sensory Ethnography; Multimodal Anthropology; Sustainability; South Asia

Dr Muhammad A. Kavesh

By Appointment

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions